Debugging Detective Stories

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Scott Hanselman has the interesting tendency to run into the weirdest debugging problems.

When I worked at Solien, I had the same talent for uncovering strange bugs. My CTO at the time said I had the “Gift Finger” which is German for “Poison Finger”. My blessing (or curse) was the anti-Midas touch in software. Code that seemed to work just fine would suddenly collapse in a flying mess of runtime errors when I took a look at it.

Fortunately, I was as good at tracking down the root causes of bugs as I was in coaxing them out of hiding. In a similar vein, Scott describes a harrowing account of some in depth detective work he did to track down a particularly tricky bug. Reading his account felt like watching a good Columbo episode. He really does give it the pacing and tension of a good detective story.

That gave me an idea. Why not try to aggregate some great “Debugging Detective Stories”? Scott suggested the name “CSI:ASP Debugging”. I don’ know if such a thing would warrant a published book (or a TV pilot), but at the least, I could collect some on my blog here. So if you have a great story of debugging a particularly nasty bug, post it in the comments of this post or post it on your own blog and link to this one.

As for me, I don’ have any good debugging stories off the top of my head since, as an independent contractor, I no longer have coworkers to introduce bugs to the code. ;)

Yes, I am kidding.

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6 responses

  1. Avatar for Todd
    Todd July 11th, 2005

    If you decide to pursue the idea, perhaps I can introduce you to my neighbor who's a movie producer.. he's even done a whole series of detective movies ;-)

  2. Avatar for haacked
    haacked July 11th, 2005

    I'm sure the idea will bring in droves of movie-goers wondering if Tom Cruise will know to try SQL Query Profiler to nail that pernicious performance bug.



    Hold your breath as Angelina Jolie loads up SOS to track down an object finalization issue.

  3. Avatar for Scott
    Scott July 11th, 2005

    hehe, you laugh. But the title of my Code Camp presentation is "Forensic Development". It's about how to figure out what the last idiot was thinking when he wrote the code you have to deal with. Even when the last idiot was you.

  4. Avatar for Dusty
    Dusty September 21st, 2006

    You want some debugging stories? You got 'em:
    www.anecdota.org/debugging

  5. Avatar for you've been HAACKED
    you've been HAACKED November 27th, 2006

    Mono Migration Analyzer

  6. Avatar for Community Blogs
    Community Blogs November 27th, 2006

    Now this is a stroke of genius. If you want people to consider making their .NET applications work on